Oatmeal Fudge Bars


Halloween is close.  Trick-or-treating in our neighborhood is Thursday, and we now live in a neighborhood in which I don’t mind handing out treats.  My kids are also getting old enough that it’s something they want to do and I don’t have to do a whole lot of work with costumes or feel like I’m exploiting my neighbors with a toddler just to get a few Snickers bars.  I still need to go and get treats, and based upon last year’s turnout, the sale price of candy at the store and the coupons I have, I’m thinking chocolate. (Last year we had something like 25 kids venture to our end of the subdivision and I had a whole lot of mini Tootsie Pops left over–don’t get me wrong, I like Tootsie Pops, but if I’m going to go to the trouble of buying candy and then “suffer” through leftovers, well, chocolate is much preferred.  And then I don’t feel quite as guilty about taking from the stash of my extremely generous daughters–“Here, Mom, another peanut butter cup!”)

In the event that you already have your candy purchased and ready for the giving, and in the event that your neighborhood is flooded with kids who clean you of your stash, these bars are easy, use already-in-your-pantry ingredients, and satisfy the chocolate/fudge/crunchy/chewy craving that hits at any time of day.  No tricks; all treats.  You might even think about drizzling a bit of caramel over the top.

The truth is, beyond those allergic and my sister, who doesn’t like and need a little chocolate?  And sometimes you like to pretend that it’s good for you, and if you add oatmeal, it really tips the scales in the favor of healthy and can’t be any worse than eating a bowl of sugared cereal with styrofoam marshmallows.  Or 4 peanut butter cups from your kid’s plastic pumpkin.  :)

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Oatmeal Fudge Bars

from America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook

Crust and Topping

  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp instant espresso or instant coffee (optional–may sub cocoa powder)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  1. FOR THE CRUST AND TOPPING:  Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325°.  Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil.
  2. Whisk the oats, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Stir in the melted butter until combined  Reserve 3/4 cup of the oat mixture for the topping.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer with the bottom of a measuring cup.  Bake the crust until light golden brown, about 8 minutes.  Let the crust cool completely on a  wire rack, about 1 hour.
  4. FOR THE FILLING:  Whisk the flour, sugar, instant espresso (if using), and salt together in a medium bowl.  Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in the microwave, stirring often, 1 to 3 minutes.  Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly.  Whisk in the egg until combined.  Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
  5. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat to 325°.  Spread the filling evenly over the cooled crust and smooth the top.  Sprinkle with the reserved oat topping.  Bake the bars until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and the filling begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
  6. Let the bars cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours.  Remove the bars from the pan using the foil, cut into squares, and serve.

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Spiced Pumpkin Puffs


I’m fairly certain that we all do it.  I’m talking about doing things that we’re not exactly in favor of because everyone else is doing them.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Wearing skinny jeans.  Buying the bazillionth Frozen item for your daughter as if she doesn’t have anything else emblazened with Anna and Elsa and Olaf.  Bacon.  Jumping off a cliff.  Pumpkin spice everything.  

But sometimes we find that things of which we were leery and resistent aren’t all that bad.  They may even make you and others happy.  Skinny jeans are great to show off that cute pair of boots.  Your daughter’s face continues to light up with each hint of “Let It Go”.  And there is absolutely nothing wrong about the bacon craze.  Will jump off cliff for it.

And pumpkin spice?  Well… here it is.  
IMG_5848 IMG_5849 IMG_5851  Spiced Pumpkin Puffs

recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Spiced Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  1. Generously grease two mini muffin tins.  Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and spices in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk the pumpkin, sugar, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla together until smooth. Gently fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined (do not overmix).  The batter will be thick.
  3. Divide batter between the muffin cavities (about 1 Tbsp per cavity).  Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the sugar and spices for the coating in a medium bowl.  
  5. Remove the muffins from the tins immediately and roll in the melted butter and then in the sugar mixture, letting cool on a wire rack.  Serve.